London - Bayern Munich are in pole position to reach the Champions League
quarter-finals after a sublime strike from Toni Kroos inspired the
holders' 2-0 win against 10-man Arsenal on Wednesday.
Guardiola's side rode their luck in a dramatic last 16 first leg clash
at the Emirates Stadium, but their class eventually told as Kroos
produced his moment of magic and Thomas Mueller bagged the killer second
goal in the closing stages.
Bayern survived an early penalty miss from Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and a squandered spot-kick of their own by David Alaba.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had been sent off in the incident
that led to Bayern's penalty and the visitors eventually capitalised on
their numerical superiority through Germany midfielders Kroos and
Bayern will be expected to finish the job in the second
leg on March 11, but Arsenal can take heart from their 2-0 win in Munich
at the same stage last season, even if that result wasn't enough to
stop Arsene Wenger's team bowing out on away goals.
sprang a selection shock when he opted to pick raw French striker Yaya
Sanogo ahead of experienced France international Olivier Giroud, was
left to curse his misfortune as Arsenal's promising start fizzled out.
treble winners last season, swaggered into north London widely
acclaimed as firm favourites to win both the tie and eventually the
competition itself to cap another majestic campaign.
tore into Bayern with a relish that seemed to shock the Germans and
quickly carved out two decent chances, with first Sanogo and then Santi
Cazorla denied by Manuel Neuer.
Arsenal's frenzied start had clearly rattled the visitors and they should have been ahead in the ninth minute.
Wilshere slipped a perfectly-weighted pass behind the Bayern defence
and Ozil took a touch before cleverly clipping the ball inside Jerome
Boateng, wrong-footing the centre-back who responded by clumsily
stretching out his leg and sending the Germany midfielder crashing to
Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli awarded the penalty, but
Ozil has been in poor form of late and he appeared hesitant before
sending a tame effort straight down the middle which his childhood
friend Neuer kept out with a fine one-handed save.
labouring, Boateng, booked after conceding the penalty, was fortunate to
escape a second yellow card following a heavy challenge on Wilshere.
But Guardiola's men gradually recovered their equilibrium and should have taken the lead in the 40th minute.
Robben played a simple pass to Kroos and he burst into the penalty area
for the chipped return ball without being tracked by the statuesque
Robben's first touch took the ball past
Szczesny, who caught the Dutch international with his leg, conceding a
penalty and in the process earning a red card, the 100th of Wenger's
After a long delay, Lukasz Fabianski came on as the
replacement goalkeeper and Austrian left-back Alaba, perhaps put off by
the stoppage, hit a poor penalty which clipped a post and bounced wide.
inconsistent first half prompted a tactical reshuffle at the break,
with Guardiola sending on Rafinha for Boateng and moving Javi Martinez
to central defence, allowing right-back Philipp Lahm to move in midfield
and dictate the tempo.
The changes worked wonders and Mario
Goetze and Robben tested Fabianski before the Germans broke the deadlock
in the 54th minute.
With Arsenal defending too deep, Lahm was
under no pressure as he teed up Kroos and the midfielder, in space on
the edge of the penalty area, curled a sumptuous first-time shot into
the roof of the net.
Substitute Mueller appealed in vain for
another penalty following Laurent Koscielny's trip, but he picked
himself up to deliver the knockout blow in the 88th minute.
his run to meet Lahm's cross, Mueller found space in the centre of
Arsenal's defence and directed a diving header past the exposed